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Inaugural Toyin Falola Annual Conference in Nigeria kicks off July 3

The University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria will host the first annual international conference in honor of Professor Falola on Africa and the African Diaspora. A yearly event, the conference will move from one African country to another and bring together the next generation of scholars interested in Africa and the issues of concern.

Posted: July 1, 2011
Detail from TOFAC Conference poster

Detail from TOFAC Conference poster

The theme of this year’s three-day conference is Creativity and Cultural Expressions in Africa and the African Diaspora and has drawn papers for presentation from around the globe. It is organized by the Ibadan Cultural Studies Group at the University of Ibadan in Ibadan, Nigeria, Professor Toyin Falola’s native country.

Charged with the the goal of furthering excellence in cultural studies, the Ibadan Cultural Studies Group, Faculty of Arts, and the University of Ibadan, the country's leading university, will convene the first conference. They have promised the conference will “create a provocative space for comparative critical dialogue between scholars and dancers, actors and writers, song writers and singers.”
 
Indeed the rationale for the TOFAC is to give an international group of scholars, researchers, policymakers, etc. the world over an annual forum for the potentiate to foster the advancement of cultural issues as that relate to Africa and the diaspora academically speaking.

But the conference is also as an opportunity for the collaboration that can unfold when studying the depths of a culture. The end result is naturally not only a hoped for advancement of Africa, but also global peace. It will be held on an annual basis the first week in July.

Vice Chancellor (President) of the University of Ibadan and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Phillip Adewole, will give the opening remarks. A quick glance of the wide range of paper topics to be presented gives a good idea of the dynamics already in play (see partial list below).

The inaugural presenters herald from multiple places in Nigeria; to Jamaica; to South Africa; to California, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, and many other states from the United States.

The best papers from the conference will be published by Africa World Press and the Carolina Academic Press in book form. There will be 12 topics for discussion with some having multiple panels:

  1. Creative Writing
  2. African Intellectual Culture
  3. African Literature
  4. Culture and Continuity
  5. African Healthcare and Beauty
  6. Media, Movie Industry and Telecommunication Culture
  7. Creativity and Religion with a panel on World Religions
  8. African Politics and Government
  9. Language, Speechmaking and African Creativity
  10. Textile, Spatial and Aesthetic Designs
  11. Creative Arts Forms: Carving, Sculptoring and Pottery
  12. Morality and African Values/Talent Development and Use in Africa

Professor Toyin FalolaThe conference takes its name from the renowned professor, author and mentor, Toyin Falola. He is the Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor and Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas at Austin where he has taught since 1991.

He has won numerous university awards, not the least of which was the 2010 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award. Each year the Office of Graduate Studies at The University of Texas  accepts nominations for Outstanding Graduate Teacher. The criteria is rigorous. The professor must have shown outstanding skills at both supervising theses, reports, and dissertations as well as classroom teaching.

In the notification letter from Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Victoria E. Rodríguez she wrote, "The award selection committee was greatly impressed by the exceptional support of your colleagues and students, and I heartily concur."

"There are a few times in graduate school when you meet a professor who is completely dedicated to the academic welfare of his students," Nana Akua Amponsah wrote. "One such professor is Dr. Toyin Falola.

"He goes out of his way to make sure that students studying under him develop the intellect and historical knowledge required to navigate their way both inside and outside the academic field," she added. "Many times, he quizzes students to a point of frustration, just so they explore and conceptualize multiple perspectives, and indeed, be comfortable in venturing into new academic territories outside of their sphere of knowledge and interest. I cannot think of anyone more deserving...congratulations 'Oga' and may you be around for generations of students venturing into studies in African history to benefit from your academic prowess."

Jessica Achberger wrote, "Working with Dr. Falola has been the most important and rewarding experience of my graduate career. He has taught me so much, not only about African history, but also about teaching, mentoring, publishing, leading, and genuinely caring about the lives and careers of others. I am a better scholar, professional, and person because he is my advisor."

Professor and Graduate Advisor of the Graduate Program, Jim Sidbury, pointed out that both of them started at the university in 1991. At that time, there really weren't any graduate students working on African history.

Falola changed all that. “Since his arrival, we have become a major training institution for African History, perhaps the main U.S. institution training scholars in the history of Anglophone West Africa (especially Nigeria and Ghana)," Sidbury wrote.

As well as mentoring graduate students, he convenes the annual Africa Conference. This past March was the eleventh conference. And then there are his books — more than 100 of them. As the TOFAC organizers said, “He is a creative writer, a foremost academic icon and certainly, the most celebrated published African/Black scholar of all times.”

In 2009, Falola was presented with the prestigious Africana Studies Distinguished Global Scholar Lifetime Achievement Award by Chancellor Charles Bantz of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis at the awards dinner for the First Public Scholars in Africana Studies International Conference on Globalization held in Indianapolis.

TOFAC 2011 conference posterThe organizers of the award said, “We wanted to recognize a scholar who has developed a stellar global reputation because of the significant impacts his/her scholarship has had on the global academy… We also wanted to recognize a scholar whose academic research has had transformative effects on the various global epistemological debates which have preoccupied scholars in his/her disciplinary area of focus through the years… The academic world has run out of superlatives to describe the magnificent body of scholarship produced through the years by the indefatigable, Dr. Toyin Falola.”

More recently, he was appointed as a Vice President of the International Scientific Committee (ISC) for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Slave Trade Route Project. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova approved Falola's membership to the Board of the ISC for four years and the ISC voted to make him a Vice President. Falola will be working to acknowledge what countries have already accomplished through their establishment of National Committees for the Slave Route and to promote the formation of such committees where they do not exist in other UNESCO member states.

Already plans are underway for the second and, yes, third and fourth TOFAC. The University of Lagos, Nigeria has just been selected as the host for 2012.

The third TOFAC will be in South Africa. And Ghana and Cameroon are actively competing for hosting the fourth conference.

 TOFAC Program PDF

Complete listing of presenters PDF

A listing of topic panels with a random sampling of paper presentation titles:

1) Creative Writing topic panel:
“Gender In An African Urban City: Onitsha Popular Literature Since 1950s”
“Un/Clothing African Womanhood: Postcoloniality, Globalization and the African Female body”
“Globalisation, Gender and Representation: Perspectives of Imagination and Creativity in the works of select Nigerian Playwrights”

2) African Intellectual Culture topic panel:
“The Regime of Mental Magnitude, Intellectual Creativity and Leadership Imagination”
“African Intellectuals as Cultural Nationalists in Africa and the Diaspora: A Comparative Study of Edward Wilmot Blyden and Mbonu Ojike”
“Canons And Margins: New Nigerian Writing And Discursive Dialogues”

3) African Literature topic panel:
“‘Thought-Up Light of the Imagination’: Cathartic Creativity in Achmat Dangor’s Bitter Fruit”
“Creativity And African Poetic Expression: The Example of Senghor And Osundare”
“From Child Soldiers to Authors and Artists: Exploring the Written and Musical Expressions of Emmanuel Jal and Ishmael Beah”
“Female Writers And Social Challenges In Nigeria, 1960-1985: A Historical Survey”

4) Culture and Continuity topic panel:
a. Performance: Theatre, Music and Dance
“Choreographic Design In Ogugu Funerary Dance Performance of Ebira People of Central Nigeria”
“Of Mimesis, Indigenous Performances and the African Drama”
“From Alarinjo To Oniduro-Stand Up Comedy As A Neo-Cultural Expression In Nigeria”
“African Cultural Values and Creativity ‘Music and Dance’ in the Making of the Diaspora: The Examples of Brazil and Cuba”
“Performativity, Power and the Body: Carnival aesthetics in Cape Town”

5) African Healthcare and Beauty topic panel:
a. Creativity and Economic Growth
“Black Cultural Expression and the ‘Politics of Hair’ in the African Diaspora”
“Culture of ‘Fattening’ Room Practices: Implications for Health, Figure and Fitness”
“Orin Aremo Psycho-therapy IN  CONTEMPORARY Yoruba Society”
“Tattoo And The TIV People Of Benue State: An Aesthetic Perspective”

6) Media, Movie Industry and Telecommunication Culture topic panels:
a. Home-video Culture
“African Diasporic Filmmakers and Questions of Transnationality and Migration, Media and Creative Arts”
“The Healing Word: The Significance of Orality In Nigerian Home Videos”
“A Slip or Error?  Translation and Mis-translation in Selected Nollywood movies”
“Reconstructing Her-story in the Making of Tanzanian Films”

b. Media and Creative Arts
“Mediated Creativity In Selected News Magazine”
“Representation of Politics or Politics of Representation: Editorial Cartoons and 2011 Electoral campaigns in Nigeria”

7) Creativity and Religion with a panel on World Religions topic panel:
“Bori Fetishism and the Phenomenon of Cultural Domination of Hausa Women In Northern Nigeria”
“Metaphysics, Poetry And Dramatic Features of Ifa Divinatory Performance”
“The Impact of Islam on the Traditional Way of Child Naming in Yorubaland, South Western Nigeria”

8) African Politics and Government topic panels:
a. Responsible Government, Accountability and State Building
“Institutionalizing The Culture Of Accountability In Local Government Administration In Nigeria”
“Transforming Governance in Africa:  A Social Accountability Perspective”
“Liberalism, Globalization, and the Myth of Decenteredness: Challenges for Sociology in Africa”
“Indigenous African Welfare System: A Tool For Addressing The Challenge of Retirement In Post-Colonial African Society”

b. Creative Arts and Politics
“Politics and literature Nexus: a Study of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Weep Not Child”
“The Black Panther Party And Afrobeat: The Cultural And Social-Political Activism of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti”

c. Traditional Institutions and Government
“African Culture and Tradition in Transition: The Institution of Chieftaincy and the Paradox of Modernity in Bekwarra”
“Cultural Expressions: Bekwarra Age Grade System, Promise or Peril in an Age of Globalization?”

9) Language, Speechmaking and African Creativity topic panel:
a. Indigenous African philosophies, wise sayings and general thought process
“Creativity, Cultural Expressions And The Problem of Theory In African Philosophy”
“The Decline of The Use of Proverbs As A Creative Oral Expression: A Case Study of Proverb Usage Among The Ondos In The South Western Part Of Nigeria”
“The Language Question in African Literary Script: An “Undoable” Legacy of Colonialism?”

10) Textile, Spatial and Aesthetic Designs topic panel:
a. African Textiles, Architecture and Designs
“Indigenous African Technology: the Loom in Traditional Tiv Textile Industry”
“A Model for Nigerian Architecture and Aesthetics in Design Education Pedagogy”
“Hybrid Forms in the Built Environment: A Study of 20th and 21st Century Nigerian Architecture”
“How the Poor Solve their Housing Problems: A case study in Ibadan”

11) Creative Arts Forms: Carving, Sculptoring and Pottery topic panel:
“Transportation in the Pre- industrial Economy of Nigeria: The Place of Canoe”
“Pottery Making Among The Igede of Central Nigeria”
“Pottery in East-Central African History: Art, Technology, Social Transformations, and God”

12) Morality and African Values/Talent Development and Use in Africa topic panel:
“Knowledge, Beliefs, and Values”
“Talent in the Yoruba Literary Culture: A Study of Gbenga Adeboye and his Arts”

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